Whether you’re sensing some pregnancy symptoms and have been trying and tracking your ovulation, at some point you’re probably going to need to take a pregnancy test.
But there might be some things you are wondering. Like when is the best time to take a pregnancy test? How do they work exactly – and the big one, how accurate are home pregnancy tests?
Choosing when to take the test is actually an important decision, because when you take the test can affect its accuracy. These days over-the-counter pregnancy tests are very reliable, but there are a few things you need to know.
When to take a pregnancy test?
Chances are you’re anxiously wanting to find out if you are pregnant, either because you want to be pregnant or because you don’t. But either way, taking the test too soon can actually garner a negative result.
If you have been tracking your period and ovulation, you might be desperate to pee on that stick and you feel like you just can’t wait until your period is late to do it.
The best time to take a pregnancy test is after your period is due. If you’re unsure when your period is due or have irregular periods you should aim to wait the longest length of your cycle. For example, if your period usually comes around every 28-30 days, wait until after 30 days.
Some brands will advertise that they can be taken before you miss your period but these results may be unreliable and garner a false negative.
Is there a best time of day to take a pregnancy test?
Again, home pregnancy tests have come a long way in recent years, but it is recommended for the most accurate result it is best to take the test in the morning. And especially if you haven’t yet missed your period or are only a few days late.
You can take a test later in the day, but your chances of getting a false-negative are higher.
How do pregnancy tests work?
Pregnancy tests check your urine for human chorionic gonadotropin hormone, which is more commonly known as HCG.
Because your urine is more concentrated in the morning, the levels of HCG are usually higher – giving you a better chance of getting a positive result if you are pregnant.
The results will usually be displayed within a few minutes, and typically appear as either:
- One vs two lines
- A symbol, usually a + or a –
- Or the words ‘pregnant’ and ‘not pregnant’
What are the different types of pregnancy tests?
All over-the-counter pregnancy tests will check your urine for HCG however there are a few different ways of going about it.
You may find the good old “pee on a stick” kind which will give you your reading automatically after you place it under the steady flow of urine.
Or you may find the “pee in a cup” kind which requires you to use a dipstick or dropper to test the urine.
How accurate are pregnancy tests?
Pregnancy tests these days boast around 99% accuracy. However it’s important to remember that this comes down to a number of the factors outlined above as well as how closely you follow the directions on the packet.
So can a pregnancy test be wrong?
Getting a negative result doesn’t necessarily mean you are not pregnant, it just means that there wasn’t enough HCG in your urine to detect it at the point of testing. It’s often a good idea to wait a couple of days and try again.
On average it takes between 7-12 days after implantation for HCG to be detectable in your urine.
Generally speaking a positive pregnancy test will be fairly accurate but it’s always a good idea to follow up with your GP to confirm the results.
What if you’ve got all the symptoms but the test says no?
It is common for some women to just “know” they are pregnant before they have taken a test. This is usually down to a few common symptoms that occur in the early days, such as:
- You’ve missed your period
- You have cramping
- Your breasts are sore or tender
- You’re tired
- You’re nauseous and can’t keep food down
Or perhaps it’s just good old female intuition.
But if you’re showing the signs of being pregnant, you had sex without contraception, your period is late yet the tests are still telling you no then it might be time to see a doctor.
Your doctor will assess your situation and may suggest you take a blood test to determine whether you are pregnant or not.
There could be a number of reasons your period is late so your doctor will help determine the cause.
Remember that home pregnancy tests are a great way to put your mind at ease when it comes to finding out you are pregnant. Using them as they were intended, at the optimum time will give you the best chance of an accurate result. So no matter how excited you are to find out, doing a test early might not be the best idea.